Hoax blogger admits Citi Bikes not spying on riders

The mayor and police commissioner confirmed there are no surveillance cameras on Citibikes. Credit: Metro File Photo.
The mayor and police commissioner confirmed there are no surveillance cameras on Citi Bikes.
Credit: Metro file photo

A wave of panic tore through the city this week following a report of surveillance cameras embedded in Citi Bikes.

Perhaps that was a bit of an overstatement: A few people were confused and mildly alarmed due to a blog post implicating Citi Bikes as a participant in the surveillance of New Yorkers.

The report, written by a comedian named John Powers, was matter-of-fact and claimed to have discovered the cameras after being knocked off a Citi Bike by a callous cabbie. He defended his claim against skeptics who pointed out that a quote he used about surveillance from Mayor Michael Bloomberg came from an entirely unrelated New York Daily News article.

Another quote attributed to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly could not be found anywhere else and seems unlikely to be true, given the commissioner and the mayor both dismissed out of hand Wednesday morning the possibility of cameras on Citi Bikes.

Shortly thereafter, the blog writer, who had previously insisted on the veracity of his claims, wrote a new post acknowledging that the original post was a hoax.

“If anybody bothered to look at any of my other posts, they would’ve seen I’m a comedian,” the blogger wrote. “I didn’t attempt to hide that.”

However, after a few lines complaining about surveillance, Bloomberg’s controlling tendencies and Anthony Weiner’s sexting, he continued: “People said my article was not funny. I agree. It wasn’t meant to be funny.”

And when commenters on the original post initially expressed doubt, he reposted his story on his Google Plus page with the note: “People are questioning the legitimacy of this article. It’s completely true. There are two cameras inside every Citi Bike. They are not reporting this is mayor [sic] news outlets because they are being told not to.”

He had earlier claimed that “friends” at NBC “admit they are aware [of the Citi Bike cameras] but can’t say so.”

Powers told Metro he didn’t plan the story as a hoax; he meant to write Onion-esque satire.

“Basically what it blew up into was me being a pariah and trying to capitalize on people’s fears, which wasn’t really what I intended at all,” Powers said.

Powers justified his earlier insistence that the story was true by saying he “only did it for a day.”

“I was trying to back it while people were interested in it, but I wasn’t really trying to fool anybody,” he said.

He blamed careless readers and Twitter users for the post getting such traction.

“I think the fact that 135,000 people saw the blog means that someone was retweeting it and either didn’t realize I’m an entertainer or didn’t care,” he said.

Powers said he’s glad he got people riled up about the issue of privacy and surveillance, and noted that though the bikes may not have cameras, they do have GPS devices.

“They know where you shop, they know where you eat,” Powers said. “I think it’s something people should stop and think about more often.”

“We live in one of the most amazing cities in the world,” he added, “but it’s also one of the most closely monitored cities in the world.”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Breaking: Local

Judge rules Tsarnaev can view victim autopsy photos

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can view the autopsy photographs of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Local

Police warn of attempted assault on woman near…

Police in Cambridge issued an alert after a woman said she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault after leaving Porter Square early Wednesday.…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

NBA

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery…

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery odds with loss

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

MLB

Injury bug tearing holes in Red Sox

Red Sox fans will recall that last year the bullpen was decimated by injuries. From Franklin Morales to Andrew Miller, from Craig Breslow to Andrew…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.